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Portugal's Roman Villa da Corte reveals its secrets


The Roman Villa of da Corte is the first complex built in the Roman period located in São Bartolomeu de Messines, close to the city of Silves (Algarve), and the most significant structure from the Roman period excavated until now in southern Portugal.

Portugal's Roman Villa da Corte reveals its secrets
Reconstruction of the Roman villa in São Bartolomeu de Messines
[Credit: Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Silves]
It was found in 2005 by the technician of the Municipal Chamber of Silves, Jorge Correia, and excavated between 2009 and 2014 by a team from the University of Jena (Germany), in collaboration with the regional government of Silves (which supported most of the expenses) and the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage.

Now an exhibition at the Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Silves reveals what that villa was like, who lived there and how those occupants lived.

Portugal's Roman Villa da Corte reveals its secrets
Reconstruction of the Roman villa in São Bartolomeu de Messines
[Credit: Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Silves]
Although the villa was rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in 300 AD, it was originally constructed in the first half of the first century. It was finally abandoned during the Islamic conquest in the ninth century.

The villa was home to people of the upper middle class, with a high and evident prosperity, as the imported objects from Greece and South Italy testify.

Portugal's Roman Villa da Corte reveals its secrets
Excavations of the Roman Villa in São Bartolomeu de Messines
[Credit: Dennis Graen/FSU]
Of large dimensions, the villa, in addition to the area of individual living spaces, had a terrace and a bathroom area, fed by a water cistern linked to a supply source. The remains of marble and mosaic stuccoes and floorings are another of the villa's unique features. It was also equipped with a winepress, kiln and stables. Materials linked to the production of textiles indicate that this was one of the activities carried out in the villa.

The exhibition presents many objects linked to the daily life of the inhabitants of the villa, but also other objects discovered during the excavations, attesting to the early human presence, including stone axes dating to 3,600 BC, bronze objects from the second and third centuries and other finds from the Iron Age.

Portugal's Roman Villa da Corte reveals its secrets
The marble slab inscribed with the name 'Yehiel' in Hebrew
[Credit: Dennis Graen/FSU]
More intruiging is a marble panel, found in 2011, identified as a tombstone, dating from no later than 390 BC, inscribed with the name 'Yehiel' in Hebrew, and which is the oldest Jewish artefact discovered in the Iberian Peninsula to date.

The exhibition, entitled "Villa Romana da Corte: Dinâmica de ocupação e quotidiano de uma população rural", was inaugurated on May 18, International Museum Day, and will remain at the Sala de Exposições do Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Silves until January 10, 2019.

Source: Terra Ruiva [July 10, 2018]

TANN

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